What have you imagined when you thought about being an International student in the U.S. before you actually became one? Some will say partying, some will say studying and others might say “I just saw myself walking on campus, carrying my books with an awesome smile like all of the college ads.” We all have these fantasies from movies, TV, and advertisements but no one taught us how to be a successful international student, so here are five tips to be a successful international student in real life (other than studying hard!) that no Hollywood movie or study abroad agency will tell you.
#1: Get to Know People
When I first came to the U.S, I was alone and lonely. I studied and tried to get through the classes all by myself for a year because I thought no one wanted to be friends with me since they didn’t talk to me. The truth is, YOU HAVE TO TALK TO THEM and I can promise you that most people will be nice to you. Once you become friends with others, your English improves because people around you always talk to you in English. You can study with them, share or borrow textbook with them, or go out on weekends! So break out of your shell and talk to people! They might be the saviors for your life in the U.S.
#2: Get Involved in School
The best way to get to know people in college is to get involved. There are a lot of ways to do that in college: join clubs, become a student ambassador, volunteer. Not only will it help you get to know other students, but it helps you connect with faculty and even people outside of school. And the relationships you create can be a lifelong, priceless thing!
#3: Surround Yourself with Positive People
I am not going to lie, there are so many temptations and negative influences in the U.S that you may not have had in your country. After spending the time and money to get to the U.S. you don’t want to lose sight of why you are studying abroad and your motivation. The key to staying on track is to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people who have good influence on you. Their positive attitude will inspire and motivate you when you feel down or lost.
#4:Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Some cultures don’t consider asking questions a positive thing. I am from Japan and asking question in Japan was definitely a negative thing to do there. But here in America, people love questions! It shows your effort to understand and the fact that you are listening to them. So never be afraid to ask questions! It is one of the most important things to be a successful student.
#5: Enjoy the American Life!
I know the loneliness and homesickness you can feel sometimes when you are away from your family and friends. However, there are a lot of things you can enjoy in the U.S. that you can’t do in your country. Movies and TV shows comes out much earlier because they don’t have subtitles, and many holidays give you an excuse to eat turkey and chocolate, so enjoy them!
Last Word of Advice
You must have help from others to be a successful international student. Seek help from your advisor, professor—even a classmate who sits next to you in class. Once I started asking professors questions and made friends in class to do homework with, it made my school life 100 times easier and fun!